Medicine Degree (MbCHb), Physiology Degree (BSc)
Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London
ESA Research MD Concordia Station Antarctica
European Space Agency
I’m a medical doctor working in Antarctica as a researcher for the European Space Agency on ‘White Mars’.
There are many things which make our antarctic station (Concordia) like living on a spaceship or another planet. For example we are a small crew, without sunlight for over 100 days, have lower oxygen levels because we live at high altitude and are isolated from the rest of the world for 9 months. All of these things make Concordia a great place to do research so we can learn more about the effects of spaceflight missions on the health of astronauts.
Here is a video I have made for you about our life at Concordia:
This is me 40m high on the American Tower:
My Typical Day
Tea, head outside to collect snow samples, lunch & tea, experiments with the crew, tea, chill, tea, bed.
After a poor night’s sleep (due to the dry atmosphere, altitude and varied daylight pattern), it is often a struggle for me to peel myself out of my cosy bed to join the others for breakfast. Nothing is possible until I have enjoyed a cup of tea!
After breakfast I head to work in the ESA Laboratory where I analyse data and send it to Europe. The ESA lab is located on the floor above our bedrooms which makes my morning commute manageable!! This is a photo of me in the lab:
Lunch is at 12:30. We are an international crew here so my friend, JP, as a true Italian kindly makes sure we have all been offered a coffee afterwards!
Every afternoon two crew members come to my lab and complete the ESA experiments.
Some days I go outside to collect snow samples to see if any bacteria can survive in the extreme environment we experience here, conditions similar to Mars. The temperature can be really really cold, often less than -80C and completely dark as we don’t see the sun for 3 months during the antarctic winter. This is a picture of me outside next to an atmospheric laser:
I also analyse the water here which is recycled using a prototype of the machine installed on the International Space Station.
In the late afternoon we regularly host Skype calls to schools and museums. Recently we had a fantastic opportunity to talk with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the International Space Station which we all really enjoyed!
For more information about the science we are performing here and life on base please see my ESA blog or twitter @bethahealey.
What I'd do with the prize money
I would like to send all participating schools a ‘Cosmic Rocket’ and postcard from Antarctica. I will also send the winning class astronaut ice cream and call you over Skype from Antarctica to congratulate you!!
Powered by baking powder and vinegar the cosmic rocket can fly up to 50 feet high!! Explore chemistry in action as it blasts off!
The postcard will travel over 14,000km to reach your classroom from my lab in Antarctica, one of the remotest areas of the world.
The winning class will receive Astronaut Ice Cream to celebrate! I will also call you via Skype to congratulate you and show you the worlds largest freezer where everything is ice!!
Astronaut Ice Cream:
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Well the rest of the crew here say… ‘Tiny, adventurous & enthusiastic’
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Astronaut, vet, artist, architect, pilot, doctor… I’ve never been good at making decisions!!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
More than I should have been
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Exploring the North Pole
This is me under the snow in Concordia Sismo caves a few days ago!
This is Concordia Station
This is a tough day in my office 🙂
This is during the Antarctic winter when we didn’t see the sun for over 100 days!! #NightFever!!
These are the southern lights!!! Amazing!
For more pictures of life at Concordia Station please see our ESA Concordia Flicker account.